There isn’t much more to ask from a tea than what this one offers. The bitterness is low, but the other flavours are so pungent and there is so much breadth that this is a non-issue. Maybe one could say that the cha qi isn’t nearly as obvious as with some other gu shu productions. However, I am quite fond of its subtle nature. I suspect the taste profile blending savoury, sweet and sour aspects isn’t going to be for everyone. Personally, I love it though.
Immediately, one is greeted by a deep dry leaf aroma which has some unusual notes like instant hot cocoa or caramel. Wet leaf smell is a bit more standard. You get the impression of forest with mushrooms, ferns and a mineral rich soil. Cream and celery appear too.
First steep is sweet and sour with hints of ale and celery again. It has a colloidal and coating mouthfeel that’s very interesting given that the session’s just starting. In the next one, the texture is more creamy and slightly powdery as well. The tea already has great depth without any astringency or bitterness. It is savoury, earthy, and vegetal with a lemon finish.
Third infusion brings more umami, deep sweetness and floral notes to the table. It is still sour though and now we also have a mild mineral bitterness that is reminiscent of (the neighboring) Naka teas.
Fourth steep has a super creamy texture with a numbing, mildly drying, and very dynamic mouthfeel. The tea is very pungent now and develops an expansive aftertaste that sticks around for quite a while.
Fifth infusion is the strongest yet. It is extremely mineral and also quite floral. The aftertaste is cooling and flowery. It is a bit spicy and has an apricot sweetness and a burnt butter flavour.
Next few steeps mark a transition in the profile. We see the emergence of fruity notes as well as some vanilla and chocolate in the background. There are also flavours of root vegetables (celery). When brewed for longer, the tea displays some very interesting sour notes that linger on the tongue and are hard to describe precisely. In the empty cup I also noted aromas of candle smoke and parsnips.
Eleventh infusion still has quite a thick and oily texture. There is some dryness and bitterness reminiscent of slightly unripe apricots. The taste also has a nutty aspect like apricot pits and a cut grass flavour. There is a very fragrant aftertaste. More apricot notes are to be found in subsequent steeps which also show a more classic Bu Lang like profile with notes of honey and beeswax in the aftertaste.
Music pairing: https://castelsotterra.bandcamp.com/album/omega-mai
Flavors: Apricot, Celery, Compost, Cream, Cut Grass, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Parsley, Pleasantly Sour, Rainforest, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetables